The sharing economy can and must be plural. Alongside capitalistic platforms, which capture the value generated by their users without redistributing it fairly, new platforms emerge: more inclusive, opening their governance to their community, concerned about the fair distribution of the value they create, willing to cooperate with other actors. These alternative platforms offer innovative models based on various inspirations ranging from the free software movement, the commons, the collaborative economy and the social and solidarity economy, whose historical fight for the diversity of the economy needs to be expanded to the digital revolution.
However, to be successful, this synergy needs to be done in a context of trust and through concrete achievements. To that end, French association La Coop des communs launched the Plateformes en communs project at the end of 2017 with the mission to create both a community and a set of commons enabling the construction and the emergence of these new fair digital models.
Plateformes en communs is a community of fair/open digital platforms, including various kinds of members (project leaders, experts, activists). Plateformes en communs is also a learning community, meaning that its members are co-creators of their collaboration and learn together through a process of horizontal action research. Plateformes en communs can as well be considered as a “commons²”, being an innovative ecosystem at the service of innovative ecosystems (the platforms and their stakeholders). Plateformes en communs’ mission is plural: building an ecosystem of platforms (around 20 platforms as of spring 2018) ; creating commons and inter-cooperations so that collective success allows individual success ; enabling the emergence of new projects ; experimenting and documenting innovative practices.
The community of platforms is gathered around a charter, which includes 5 main aspects:
- Inclusive governance,
- Fair distribution of value,
- Data ethics,
- Production of commons
- Cooperation between members.
Besides its work building and animating a community of fair platforms, one of the main activities of Plateformes en communs is the coordination of 3 collaborative working groups gathering both platforms and experts around three topics: 1- Governance and legal aspects (status, licenses, labels, terms & conditions…), 2- Economic models and fundings (pricing, models of contribution, commons accounting, assets valuation…), 3- Software and inter-cooperation (interoperability, community governance tools, API…).
Since its beginning, Plateformes en communs has undertaken a various range of actions. Its inaugural conference in Paris (5th December 2017) gathered more than 100 people, emphasizing the interest for the project. Alongside the organisation of several inter-platform meetings and a permanent role of networking and watch (on events, call for projects…), Plateformes en communs has also carried out several operations through its working groups – presentations of inspiring initiatives (Data Food Consortium, Coopventure fund, La Fabrique des mobilités) ; collective reflections on reciprocity in the commons, on (non-)measurement of individual contributions, on open/reciprocity licenses… ; experimentation of the “home-made” Coopyright license ; technical surveys with platforms (business models, governance schemes…).
Plateformes en communs ambitions to start other actions in the coming months, such as experimenting data pooling and interoperability standards between platforms ; elaborating technical tools (legal status, software…) in line with practices of open governance ; studying the relevance of a brand/label to promote fair platforms ; animating a collective reflection on fair and sustainable pricing models, commons accounting/valuation (open intangible assets…), valuation and measurement of platforms’ social impacts…
Plateformes en communs operates in relation with different international movements committed to the promotion of fair and open platforms, such as the Platform Cooperativism movement, the “open cooperativism” paradigm developed by the P2P Foundation, and similar regional undertakings like Procomuns in Barcelona. Plateformes en communs can be considered as the French emanation of these different movements.
Convinced that a genuine shift can only be reached through ambitious horizontal and international cooperations, Plateformes en communs has also recently launched with like-minded actors such as SMart (major cooperative of autonomous workers) and REVES (european network of cities and regions for the social and solidarity economy) the CO-COMMUNS network – COmmons, COoperatives, MUNicipalities and UNionS – with the goal to create an international alliance promoting these new fair digital models.